Eskom granted court interdict against 'unlawful' strike

Johannesburg- After a day of protests and load shedding across parts of the country, Eskom has obtained an urgent court interdict barring three major unions from striking.

The Labour Court granted the power utility the interdict on Thursday declaring any industrial action, picket or gathering undertaken after June 11 is “unprotected and unlawful” according to the Labour Relations Act (LRA).

The majority of workers at the state-owned entity (SOE) fall under the category of essential services and are barred from striking.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) and Solidary have been banned from “encouraging and inciting” their members to further participate in the industrial action.

According to the Labour Court order seen by Fin24, workers at Eskom are barred from blocking entrances, tripping the power supply, hijacking coal trucks, interfering with the coal supply and intimidating other employees and contractors.

On Thursday morning, Eskom announced the electricity system was constrained due to coal trucks being blocked at the entrances of power stations.

Towards Thursday evening, the power utility announced it would implement stage one of load shedding due to reduced capacity and municipalities started cutting off areas to lower the strain on the system.

Unions held a picket outside Megawatt Park, Eskom’s head office in Sunninghill where they announced they would continue with rolling pickets and demonstrations, before embarking on a full-blown strike.

The NUM and Numsa are demanding 15% wage hikes and Eskom initially offered 0% increases, citing financial pressures but has since been told by Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan to return to the negotiating table where the power utility is expected to increase its offer.

Solidarity members joined Thursday’s action but the union has not yet officially cooperated with the NUM and Numsa. Solidarity’s opening demand was for 9.5% increases.

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